News. Debate. Community. Levers for a better democracy.
Congress
DNY59/iStock/Getty Images

While the Democrats and the GOP have been equally represented among lawmakers moving from Capitol Hill to K Street, the 2018 election pushed more Republicans into the lobbying world.

The revolving door has been spinning real fast

At least 176 former members of Congress have become lobbyists or taken some other role trying to influence their former colleagues and other parts of the federal government since 2011, according to a report by OpenSecrets issued Thursday.

OpenSecrets, a nonpartisan research group that tracks money in politics, found that the use of the revolving door between Congress and the private sector was about evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats.

But the lawmakers who left the Capitol at the end of last year and moved quickly into the influence industry are mostly in the GOP. That's mainly because the wave of departures, either voluntary or forced by the voters, was disproportionately Republican following the Democratic gains in the 2018 midterm election.

Most of these former members were hired by K Street lobbying firms or major law firms, the report found. Squire Patton Boggs and Akin Gump each have hired five former members since the 111th Congress ended in 2010.


Not all of the former members registered as lobbyists; some acted as consultants.

A variety of lawmakers, including Democratic senators and presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, have proposed a ban on former members of Congress becoming lobbyists.

Currently, House members must wait one year and senators two years before they can lobby.

Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas have formed an unusual coalition to work on legislation that would create a lifetime ban on lobbying by former members.

News. Community. Debate. Levers for better democracy.

Sign up for The Fulcrum newsletter.

Ballot measures are good democracy — but only if you can understand them

Marginal improvements have been made to help voters understand the questions posed to them on the ballot this November, a new study concludes, but such ballot measures still favor the college-educated — who represent a minority of the U.S. population.

This year voters in eight states will decide the fate of a collective 36 such propositions. In a study released Thursday, Ballotpedia assessed how easy it is to comprehend what each proposal would accomplish, concluding that the difficulty level had decreased compared with the referendums decided in the last off-year election of 2017 — but not by much.

In fact, according to a pair of well-established tests, 21 of the 36 ballot measures cannot be understood by the 40 percent of the voting-age population who never attended college.

Keep reading... Show less
Balance of Power
teguhjatipras/Getty Images

Two states asking Supreme Court for permission to regulate Electoral College conduct

Colorado has become the second state to ask the Supreme Court to decide if states may legally bind their presidential electors to vote for the candidate who carried their state.

The issue of so-called faithless electors is the latest aspect of an increasingly heated debate about the virtues and flaws of the Electoral College that has blossomed, especially among progressive democracy reform advocates, now that two of the past five presidential winners (Donald Trump in 2016 and George W. Bush in 2000) got to the Oval Office despite losing the national popular vote.

Keep reading... Show less